Trauma & PTSD


Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial

This article, by Hollifield, Michael; Sinclair-Lian, Nityamo; Warner, Teddy D.; Hammerschlag, Richard, was published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Volume 195, Number 6 (June 2007). (Link is to full article.)

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and acceptability of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People diagnosed with PTSD were randomized to either an empirically developed acupuncture treatment (ACU), a group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or a wait-list control (WLC). The primary outcome measure was self-reported PTSD

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Somatic Symptoms in U.S. Mien Patients

Moore L.J., Boehlein J.K. (1991). Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179:728-733.

This report describes treatment over a period of 6 years of Mien refugees from highland Laos in the Indochinese Psychiatric Program of the Oregon Health Sciences University (Portland, OR). The medical and psychiatric problems of 84 patients were presented through somatic symptoms such as headache, dizziness, or musculoskeletal pain. Primary care medical problems were identified and treated, with the major focus on the two most common psychiatric diagnoses: major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Refugee trauma versus torture trauma: a retrospective controlled cohort study of Tibetan refugees

Holtz T.H. (1998). Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 186(1):24-34.

A retrospective cohort study of 35 refugee Tibetan nuns and lay students who were arrested and tortured in Tibet matched with 35 controls who were not arrested or tortured was carried out in India. Subjects were administered the Hopkins Checklist-25, evaluating anxiety symptoms, affective disturbances, somatic complaints, and social impairment. The prevalence of symptom scores in the clinical range for both cohorts was 41.4% for anxiety symptoms and 14.3% for depressive symptoms.

Trauma experiences, posttraumatic stress, dissociation, and depression in Cambodian refugees

This study, of Cambodian refugees who have been resettled in the United States, examines the levels of trauma and psychiatric symptoms and to determine the relationship between the amount of trauma experienced and subsequent psychiatric symptoms. Subjects experienced multiple and severe traumas and showed high levels of all symptoms measured. Forty-three (86%) of the subjects met DSM-III-R criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, 48 (96%) had high dissociation scores, and 40 (80%) could be classified as suffering from clinical depression.


New Information on the Neuroscience of PTSD & Depression: How It Affects Torture Treatment and Outcomes


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Wednesday, 25 April 2012


The brain is very sensitive to the environment. It responds to both internal and external environment, including trauma. The brain is capable of rapid physiological and affective changes, depending upon the heredity and stress (genes & environment). All of us who treat patients need to know how the brain interacts with our work. This information helps us in understanding how therapy affects the outcome and why medications act differently on various symptoms of PTSD and depression and need to be tailored to each individual. Current information is based on newer study methods including MRI and fMRI, animal studies including “knockout mice”, DNA, micro assays, viral-medicated gene transfer, among others. The presentation provides information to help us understand why some individuals, as compared to others, suffer more severe reactions to trauma. The presentation also helps us understand varying reactions to treatment and the interactive effects of psychiatric medications and psychotherapy. In the future, we should have a better idea of what medicines will work for a particular individual prior to treatment.


Dr. David Kinzie is Professor of Psychiatry, clinician, and researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, where he founded the Intercultural Psychiatric Program (IPP) in 1977. He currently treats survivors of torture from Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Cambodia in the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon, a part of the IPP. Dr. Kinzie is a distinguished fellow in the American College of Psychiatrists and has published widely on the effects of trauma and torture on refugees and immigrants, effective treatment and outcomes.

References/Bibliography for further research

J. David Kinzie, M.D., F.A.C. Psych

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Other resources

CVT PATH Bibliography Q1 2019

CVT's Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) creates bibliographies every quarter. The PATH bibliography is a resource for current literature on the topic of the mental health status of and treatments for torture survivors, war trauma survivors, refugees, and asylum seekers. This also includes research in the areas of social work that relate directly to the psychological well-being of these populations.

Fundamentals: Medical Services Resources


Benson J, Skull S. Hiding from the sun – vitamin D deficiency in refugees. Australian Family Physician. 2007;36:355-357.

Crosby SS, Norredam M, Paasche-Orlow MK, et al. Prevalence of torture survivors among foreign-born patients presenting to an urban ambulatory care practice. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2006;21(7):764-8.

Grodin MA, Piwowarczyk L, Fulker D, Bazazi AR, Saper RB.

Improving Well-Being for Refugees in Primary Care: A Toolkit for Providers

CVT’s NEW Toolkit for Providers Working with Refugees

Meet Paw, a refugee from Burma seeking medical care in the U.S. for her headaches, nightmares and physical pain. She’s unfamiliar with the U.S. primary care system and she doesn’t speak English. Waiting alone at her first doctor appointment, Paw wonders, “How will the doctor understand me? What if I don’t like my interpreter? Will I ever be healthy again?” Paw’s questions don’t end there. They’re only a few of several listed in in CVT’s new manual, “Improving Well Being for Refugees in Primary Care: A Toolkit for Providers.”  Paw is a fictional character whose real-life experiences mirror those of clients in CVT’s Healing Hearts program.

Primary Care

It is quite important that health care professionals working in primary care medical settings learn how to identify which patients have survived torture. Once these patients have been identified, it is critical to work with them in a compassionate and competent manner.

PTSD Treatment For Monks

In this radio interview by Fresh Air, "Dr. Michael Grodin discusses his experiences treating Tibetan monks who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Many of the monks were imprisoned or tortured because of their resistance to the Chinese presence in Tibet, and now some of them experience "flashbacks" while meditating.

"Grodin hypothesizes that meditation may reduce the brain's ability to inhibit unpleasant thoughts and memories. His treatment combines elements of Western and Tibetan medicine and therapy. Grodin wrote about his findings in the March issue of Mental Health, Religion, and